Hundreds of people, mainly the young, continued their protests against the gang rape of a woman, sparking off sporadic clashes with police.
Having barricaded all roads leading to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and nearby government offices, security forces sprayed water at a large crowd shouting slogans against Delhi Police and demanding death to the rapists.
Police also used batons on the protesters who defied prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more people in the city centre. But seeing the mass anger, police later allowed protests at the India Gate area.
A large gathering of mainly yoga guru Baba Ramdev supporters was also massed about a kilometre away near the Jantar Mantar monument.
The third day’s protests on Sunday also drew political activists, members of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party (AAP) as well as many with apparently no particular affiliation but very angry.
A young woman demanded that the rapists of the 23-year-old woman, who is still in critical condition in hospital since the Dec 16 assault on her in a moving bus, should be hanged.
“Our Republic Day is celebrated on Rajpath,” she said, referring to the main boulevard in the heart of the capital. “And this is where the rapists should be hanged.”
Pallavi, a 25-year-old working for a multinational, “The government is sleeping. We want to wake it up. The law should be stronger, and should be implemented properly.”
Delhi University student Hemant said the protests would continue “until we are assured that girls are safe in Delhi”.
Earlier in the day, police forcibly evicted protesters from near India Gate but succeeded only partially.
Many young men and woman were grabbed and forcibly led away towards parked buses. But many slipped through.
Some got on to top of the buses and raised slogans afresh. A few sneaked under the buses to prevent movement. Some angry protesters vandalized the buses and deflated the tyres.
The protesters played hide and seek with police and the Rapid Action Force (RAF), now withdrawing from one point and surging ahead elsewhere.
The main battleground was the India Gate hexagon, from which roads lead to all parts of Delhi.
Some of the protesters have camped at the site since Saturday night. Fresh crowds poured in Sunday morning.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi promised to a group of young women that speedy action would be taken against the accused and they would also be charged with attempt to murder.
Significantly, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit appealed for calm but said she did not approve of police action against young men and women who have taken to the streets.
Police appeared to be relatively restrained and repeatedly requested – at times with folded hands – demonstrators to vacate areas where prohibitory orders are in force.
When the crowds refused to pay heed, some people were detained.
Yoga guru Ramdev has vowed to throw his weight behind what began as a spontaneous movement of the young against the gang-rape and the thrashing of her male friend.
Eight Delhi Metro stations were shut but that seemed to have no impact on the crowds.
Raisina Hill in the heart of the capital, which houses the presidential palace, the prime minister’s office and several key ministries, saw thousands of furious youngsters break police barricades Saturday in an attempt to march to Rashtrapati Bhavan.